The Last Poem is a Bitch

The last poem arrives with a
Primordial belch
Exhausted on arrival
Falling to the ground
Wheezes at the finish line
Pulls a deep breath through a straw
Raises its hands in triumph 
Basks in absent anticipated glory

The last poem evaporates home
Sits at the table alone
Sucks down a power drink 
Wonders if it was worth it
If it ever was
If even looking back at the firing squad
Makes a difference

The last poem
Swallows the year and three Advil
Wondering what its 364 siblings are doing
Decides it doesn't matter
Fixes a drink
Something tasty on ice
Now appreciates the fuss

The last poem is a bitch
Absent of defense, pretense 
Grows old with the spider
Hatches another plot
Waits for discovery
If only, the poem thinks
If only for righteousness 
If only for love



Overlooking the world, the pines, the bird feeders, the town, relaxing in an Adirondack chair, ruby red wine and IOS device at hand, chimes playing on the wind, canine sons at her feet, plants growing with her care, angry hummingbird whistling at a brave intruder, she contemplates the world and wonders how it can get much better than this. 



A sweet slice of a miracle, she embodies discovery, on wheels, dropped iPhones, the hopes and dreams of so many, a heavy burden borne with grace and beauty, the last of a line, ready to take her own place in the world though there is no rush. She is saturated with a warm spiritualness and equal competitiveness, a mixture thoughtful and scary, warm and infuriating, a smile that swallows the day.  Growing up too fast, nature observes, but there will be time for nostalgia another day. 



He looks toward Colorado, the mansion on the hill, the next step, a joyous sacrifice, donning the white jacket and animal infiltration, of independence and days ensconced in classrooms and libraries, of lectures and books, to be the smartest one in the room so that, one day, he can be the man in the room with non-speaking patients who will rely on him for salvation and love, scalded by the brightness and certainty of a future mapped out, its branches and options ready, willing, able. 



She edges into Chicago, its broad welcoming shoulders bowing, already conquered, a feeding frenzy, the U-Haul bouncing against intruding vehicles.  Out of the way! A life awaits, sparkling and bright, blinding, daring her to discover every level of richness, noise, plurality, satisfaction. I'm here, she shouts, and the curtain rises, offering oh so many promises and fortune, excuses for to unending toasts.



The shortest route
From here to there
Is a road with four turns
Three for each ambition
One for obligatory regret
It's a highway of love
Of fear
Of trepidation
Of not knowing what destination will be found
A trail of tears
Abandoned mining towers
Radar speed traps
Endless voices on the wind
Calling, singing, sighing



I did not get my steps in yesterday. They exist somewhere. Other people more committed than me must be walking, taking the steps that were to meant be mine, now absent from my Fitbit wristband. Where are those steps?  Who has taken them? They are elsewhere, walking away without me, experiencing exotic locals, pushing into foreign territories, exercising, getting into shape, smelling roses. Those stolen steps, fleeting, are taken away in furtive glory. 


Robert Glaston

Robert Glaston rakes the sand
The sun threatening to rise
His personal public zen rock garden
Spoiled by cleats and golf balls
Stands aside
Watches wayward swings
Disrupting his lines
Ruining designs
Always another round
Another morning of grooming
Athletes looking through him


One Day

One day
Something else will go right
One of those dreams
Hovering there in the distance
Brass ring
Just out of reach
The promises of youth 
Snapped up by dragons and folly
Even Phil Mickelson finished second in the US Open six times


Yellow Flowers

It's as big as a baseball but you can swallow it whole, gulping it down raw, tearing through your esophagus, taking with it soft tissue, the last remnants of ego, and anything remotely resembling strength. It tastes bitter but fills the emptiness in your gut, challenging you to suppress everything rank and base. Perhaps there will be consolation--a rain of tiny yellow flowers suffocating the soul, leaving a blanket of soft sponginess throughout the city.  That's someone else's tale, but still.


Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson shelves another book
Finds three out of order
Stalks the punks who have 
No Respect
For Melvil Dewey
She fears for dogeared copies
Cries because no one checks out her favorites
Laments the rise of ebooks
Curses Amazon
Hunts for tomes that spew the F word
Spies on handsome middle-aged men who pay her
No Attention
Lonely, despondent, withered 
She hides in her apartment and secretly reads Anne Rice


Silence is a Dagger

Silence is a dagger
An El Salvador machete 
Sliced air between two points
As final as a period
As finite as blood on sandpaper 
It falls heavy
Dropping hot lead into water
Throwing blisters
Heaving insults 
Trying to settle on love
Coming up empty with pride and empty intelligence


Bitch Slapped

I kinda like you
As I admire bacteria 
Your hair becomes pasta 
In my eyes
Your breasts poke at my brain
My junk says
Come here
Who else writes you a poem?
I could be picking my feet
Which makes me think of you
And all your autumn armpit hair 
Captures my attention
I love you



Early this morning I sat on the edge of my cold steel bed and waited for the Red Guard to take me to the public square where I would be executed for love.  Tired and sore, I pulled myself up.  I would not miss this prison and its reeking sewer hole that delivered roaches and slime rats at night.  It was always dark down here except for a tiny thick glass window that allowed in an occasional sliver of gray light from somewhere above.



Squillo splashes the tongue
Coming alive
Driving toward the throat with
Thirst quenching
Refreshing in its dehydration
Muddle the cucumber with wooden bat
Pulverize the tissue into thick bloodied goop
Equal parts Absolute Mango and sour mix
Mound of ice
Shaken until atoms combine
Needing another
Behold: Advil 


Quail of the Valley

Quail of the Valley
Travel in twos 
Searching for clues
Tentative to the bush
Glancing everywhere at once
Feckless and dunce 
Cackling, flustered, neurotic
Beware the shotgun




Watching out
For those who are watching out
Oversight of oversight
Double checking the double checking
Resting weary mind
Waking up in perspired sheets 
Writing down items to
Free the mind 
Unrecognized scribbles in the morning
What does it mean to reference a half-dead elephant? 


Cosmo Dreams of Flies

Cosmo dreams of flies
Plump, slow, juicy ones
Bursting with blood and guts
Easy to catch 
A morsel protein treat
He steps into a cool brook
Laps at the water striders
Lowers his belly to refresh
He steals a bone
Rolls on his back
Positions himself over his master's foot
Wishes it was 4 p.m.


Julio Lechuga

Julio Lechuga stands down the street from the DES, huddled with others waiting for day work. He will do anything within reason and as far as his strength will carry him, forced into labor servitude to earn money he'll send across the border to his sweetheart. A man pulls up in a van and points at three men who climb in. Julio, unchosen, walks to the curb and kicks a rock, certain he has missed his chance today. He recalls his father, a large big-handed man who should have lived forever, who would tell him about large mountains and the jewels they carried. Be smarter than I am, he told him. Julio shrugs off the heat and turns his back on the sun. Tomorrow will be better, he thinks, another day, another chance. 


Dupont Circle

I lost my only coin in Dupont Circle and had nothing for the fountain, an offering, a dime, which was my last hope for netherworld communication, a thought cloud riding on ethereal wavelength rails, traveling with the wishes and prayers of a dozen others who stood by the water, throwing pennies, closing their eyes for an instant, blocking out the bongos and harp and laughing pubescent boys playing team keep away, pleading with the gods for just a scrap of understanding. 


Elaine Carstadt

Elaine Carstadt burns her hand on the stove
Curses herself
Searches for ointment 
Wraps gauze into a mitt
Ghost puppet
She drives with one hand
Can't apply makeup
Questioned at work
Makes up stories
Fell out of an airplane
Fought off mugger
Touched poison ivy
She pecks at a keyboard
Hunts for words
Finds she is less of a person
That her life is changed
She can't recall where she left the rest of her body 
The good half
The worthless half
Random half
She shuffles through her apartment
Trying to assemble her life
As if it were worth it



Energy expended on ego
Anticipating animosity
Predicting conflict
Unfair as a slain lamb
But is there any righteousness in squaring off?
Pushing someone to cross the green mountain?
Where is the virtue in that
Or the virtue in surprise?
Let us all wish for amity
Of hope
Bonded understanding
Pale shade of love
Or semblance of love
Perhaps resemblance
The song fools you 
It's not over
Never was
Magic glasses are bestowed
Permitting true vision
Each other's shoes
Maybe it's that savory snack mix
With poison and 6 percent iron
Press on toward the horizon
It offers that green mountain 
Ready for crossing if it comes to that


Gerald Semster

Gerald Semster works alone
A porkpie hat
A landline phone
Calling strangers at their homes
Asking their opinion.
He mostly gets some angry no's
An F-word curse
Told where to go
At night he dons a mask for show
Joining all his minions.
Four lives ago he rode a horse
To spear some game
To scalp and curse
With paint and fear across his face
Chief of all the Indians. 



I propose a toast today
To celebrate or sail away
To lift our hearts
And bend our minds 
In jealous reveries
Shine a spotlight on these few
Who show us what we used to do
To close the door
And douse the lights
In carnal heavenly
We turn our backs and ride away
Allowing this to be their day
To let it go
And pass the torch 
In cycles endlessly


Shooting Star #2

I hear that song and I'm back in the car again, driving south at night to oblivion, a nightmare in three acts, a cast of thousands. The highway is crowded but my car is the only one on it, transfixed by that song and its eerie swamp twang, the sighting of a heavenly event and how it connects the singer and me to everything that ever occurred or will happen, a refrain of such pain, such longing, self-reflection. The song ends and I play it again to revel in its moment, to set a place, hammer in a marker of this moment and others like it, to be a player in a great act of cowardice, confusion, retribution, of you, of me, of everything I might have accomplished.  I am forever hearing that perfect terrible melody.


Things I Think About Just Before I Die

Oh hell
Bills unpaid 
The dry cleaning
Who will be there
What will they say
Who will know to renew things 
Maybe it's not that bad
So this is it
I made it, at least 
Only halfway done
Please don't let it hurt
Who are those people
More dignity please 
Getting cold
Very tired
Just let me close my eyes for a second
I'll be fine
The insurance is paid up
Never got around to choosing songs 
Where's the light?
So sorry
Big mistake
Stop it